Our department would like to congratulate CFS Alum, Lydia Criss Mays, as she is the 2018 recipient of the Alumni Promise Award.This award recognizes alumni who have demonstrated distinctive achievement in a career, civic involvement or both and who are making an early mark in their career.
Lydia graduated from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Human Ecology, and went on to earn her Master’s in Early Childhood Education from our department. She then went on to secure a PhD from Georgia State University where she later became an assistant professor.
As an educator, Lydia wanted to do more to empower children so she also turned to writing children’s books “because a book can change a child’s life in a positive way which leads to changing the world in a positive way.” Lydia’s books have been finalists for “Best Book Award” from USA Book News and Indie Excellence. She has won awards from Mom’s Choice Awards in Honoring Excellence, Health Information, Apex, and Association Trends and plans for future releases to garner many more.
Lydia established See Beautiful; a philanthropic company with a mission to provide inspiring, ethically-sourced products that fund sustainable projects around the globe. To date, See Beautiful has donated over $190,000 to giving initiatives focused on teachers, schools, families, animal rescue and more. Several examples of organizations impacted are Kids Boost, Girls Grow, Just One Africa, Atlanta Dog Rescue Cafe, Covenant House, and the New Hope Center. She is currently an Educational Literary Advisor for the New Hope Center in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a board member, and volunteers with Paint Love and Covenant House. She has also served with Life Vest Inside, the Ferst Foundation, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Crohn’s and Colitis Organization of Atlanta, and the Luke Project. Lydia also faithfully serves Kula Project which empowers coffee farmers and their families in Rwanda.
In addition to her services to non-profit organizations, Lydia and her husband Andrew established the See Beautiful Fellowship in 2016 at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, for students in Early Childhood Education. Students selected must demonstrate a desire to see and create more beauty in the world during and after their academic experience in Knoxville in addition to other criteria. Learn more about Lydia and her Volunteer Spirit as highlighted in this Torchbearer article.
Lydia has received awards in addition to those for her books; the Association of Teacher Educators Distinguished Dissertation Award, the Lorene Pilcher Outstanding Dissertation of the Year Award in Early Childhood Education at Georgia State University, and a Georgia State University Outstanding Student Conference Travel Award. She has also been nominated for the Lady Godiva Women of the Year Award and the Georgia State University Instructional Effectiveness Award.